By John Geddes - Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 0 Comments
For a story in this week’s issue of Maclean’s, I interviewed several key figures about the ongoing controversy sparked by the “Idle No More” aboriginal protests, and the bid by the Assembly of First Nations to reassert its leadership through high-level, high-pressure talks with the federal government.
I focus on tensions over the process for settling comprehensive land claims. It’s not that this issue overshadows, say, improving education on reserves or figuring out how to give First Nations a share of resource revenues. But the claims negotiations do seem a clear point of friction, and thus a highly visible test for both the AFN’s leadership and Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan.
Duncan himself is, it seems to me, an inexplicably low-profile figure in all of this. After all, he’s the senior cabinet minister on the most-watched federal policy file of the past couple of months. Yet you don’t see all that much of him. Although he is far from a dynamic politician, Duncan is interesting if only for his unusually close personal links to First Nations.